Continuing heavy seas should mean that any cod would eventually find their way within reach of the shore angler, but sport for this popular species has been surprisingly poor considering the numbers of fish reported just offshore by commercial boats. Only the occasional good fish averaging 4lb to 5lb have been taken. The fish that have been landed have come mainly from the low water and rock edge marks, though a specimen of 9lb was reported from Roker pier, and one of 8½lb from Hartlepool, which was apparently taken on a big bait of squid heads. So the bigger fish are there if you are prepared to wait for them with big whiting and dab resistant baits.
The Hartlepool piers and Durham beaches continue to see the better results generally, but only because there are still reasonable numbers of quality whiting showing on most tides with big specimens to 2lb still around. Undersize flounders, dabs and the odd early plaice have made up the remainder of catches. The Wear has some big flounders showing from the upriver marks, and coalfish in the lower estuary. The Tyne has more coalfish present in the lower river, with flounders consistently showing from the upriver marks well above the Tyne Bridge where ragworm and mackerel baits are still taking fish in the near freezing winter conditions. Both Roker pier and South Shields pier have seen coalies being the main species present on most tides, with the odd cod, whiting and various flatfish species among them. Fresh crab baits are taking the better coalfish to 2lb or more. Some of the more sporting anglers are using float tackle with ragworm to pick up the bigger coalfish and odd pollack from both Roker and South Shields piers when conditions are suitable.
Club activity is very quiet with most of the clubs that are fishing travelling to the upper rivers or over to the West coast for flounders.
Alberta S.A.C. fished a rover match with most fish coming from the local rivers. Eric Bell fished the Wear to land a good six fish bag for a total of 8¾lb, Dave Flood had four from the Tyne weighing 4lb 6oz, including the heaviest fish; a cod of 2¼lb, and he tied for second place with Alan Bennett also with four fish from the Tyne.
The popular Ryhope Tuesday evening sweepstake matches start on May 1st at Panns Bank in the Wear, meet at the venue at 6.30pm. The next Ryhope Club match is on May 20th at the Copthorne Hotel in the Tyne fishing from 1pm until 5pm. Contact Bob Surtees on 0191-5237272 for details.